Started by Vinayakumar Balakrishnan, this sustainability centric project incubated at IIT Kanpur, Kerala Agricultural University and Indigram Labs is a result of extensive research of nearly two years. The team has come up with a method to make edible cutlery out of wheat bran.
In a modern-day scenario, we engage in activities that tend to cause damage to our environment. We do not realize the impact of our activities on nature. However, with the increase in our reckless actions, it has become necessary to think about a sustainable future. Kerala based eco-friendly brand ‘Thooshan’ has been gaining a lot of popularity because of its edible cutlery produced. South India is well known for its culture of using banana leaves at functions. You’ll see them at weddings, baby showers or at festivals like Onam and Vishu. Adding this cultural value to a regularly used commodity has got the brand sailing.
The initiation of Edible Cutlery
The word ‘Thooshanila’ literally means a tapered plantain leaf with a deep end. A geologist by profession, 55-year-old Vinayakumar Balakrishnan switched several jobs. Ranging from that of a banker and a CEO of a life insurance company in Mauritius, Vinayakumar finally got the chance to pursue his dreams.
“After the age of 45, I always had a plan of retirement. I had two dreams that I wanted to fulfil. One- travelling! I have always loved travelling and wanted to see more of the world. Second- Trying to innovate something that leads us to a sustainable or an eco-friendly future. While travelling, I saw a similar plate made out of bran. After 2 years of extensive research at NIIST CSIR in Trivandrum, we finally made the product,” said Vinayakumar.
Biodegradable is the new sustainable!
‘Thooshan’ is the new entrant in the cutlery world to make edible cutlery. It is a moment of pride for our country that we have started our journey towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. The brand is all set to produce edible plates, spoons, bowls, ladles, forks, knives and food containers. The cutlery is 100 per cent biodegradable and edible, except fork, knife and spoon, which are biodegradable, but not edible. It is made out of natural products and is resistant to bacteria and fungi as well.
Approved by the NIIST CSIR, Thooshan made products can hold liquid items like soup for close to 45 minutes. It can withstand a temperature between -10℃ to 140℃. In addition to this, the products are microwavable as well. If one does not want to eat the product after its usage, it can be discarded as organic manure, fish feed, poultry feed or cattle feed.
These cutleries are likely to hit the market in July. The orders have been pouring in from countries like Vietnam, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, France, UK and the US. These countries have also looking to manufacture the products locally, with the help of Thooshan team. The products were supposed to be launched on April 14, 2021, which is celebrated as Vishu in Kerala. However, due to the surge of COVID-19 cases and lockdown impositions, the launch was delayed to July.
The Thooshan factory is in the Angamaly city and carries out a fully automatic process with zero human aid. “We do not allow anyone in the factory simply because we want our products to be fully hygienic in nature. There is only one person employed to fill in the initial raw materials. Besides that, the process automatically happens just by the press of a button,” added Vinayakumar. Thooshan makes products that are not only sustainable but also hygienic to give the best to the customers.
The future of eco-friendly products
The Indian government has already proposed a ban on the use of plastic and plastic-based products by 2022. It becomes essential to have alternative products that are not only eco-friendly but also durable in their usage. Vinayakumar Balakrishnan also plans on opening contract manufacturing units of Thooshan to ensure the products reach all the citizens of the country. They are looking for likeminded people to join in this revolution. “Thooshan is not a one-product brand. It is an umbrella term for a collection of products that will help individuals understand the need to move towards a sustainable lifestyle. We also plan on launching other products in the future. These products would then become an ideal ‘eco-shop’. All the villages in our country should have such eco-shops in the future which can be owned by anyone. This is the future! We will go back to our roots, our nature,” added Vinayakumar.